October 6, 2013

Protesting in the street

Last Friday I stood on a street corner with a small group of strangers, protesting the so-called "Affordable Care Act," a.k.a. Obamacare.  Back in the 80's I protested nuclear arms and the U.S. intervention in central America. Once I was an enthusiastic leftist, now I am a somewhat reluctant, rather nuanced conservative.  Experientially, however, a protest is a protest.  It is all the same. In my youth, blind, angry people called me a communist.  Now blind, angry people call me a racist.  To oppose the enthusiastically anti-communist Ronald Reagan labelled me a communist.  To oppose the historically black Barack Obama labels me a racist.  Logically speaking, this sort of reasoning is a fallacy known as affirming the consequent.1  If you protest on the street corner, you must abandon any notion that you will be perceived as an individual, expressing your views to other individuals.  You will inherit every prejudice, good or bad, of every passerby.  As you throw yourself into this most direct of political expressions, the polity itself will strip you of any personal identity. You will be merely the embodiment of everyone's narrow slogan and everyone's haphazardly scrawled sign.

There is, of course, no other way.  One must stand upright, bravely, and take it as it comes. You must endure the hatred of those who hate you out of prejudice, and those who hate you simply because you have disturbed their illusion of order and peace.  If you can not endure this, then quietly except the world other people make for you -- or find a wiser, better, more just species than humanity.

1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affirming_the_consequent

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